Rugby-Reds blown away as Sharks reach Super Rugby semis

Reuters

Sat, 21 Jul 13:28:00 2012

(Adds detail, quotes)

The Sharks blew away the Queensland Reds to reach the Super Rugby semi-finals with a 30-17 win at Lang Park on Saturday.

JP Pietersen and Paul Jordaan touched down as the South Africans surged into an early 17-0 lead before Charl McLeod killed off any hope of a Reds' comeback at the start of the second period with an intercept try from inside his own half.

Will Genia scored for the home side just before halftime and the Reds were unable to make their concerted pressure tell until Radike Samo went over from the final move of the match.

The Sharks' victory in Brisbane set up an all-South African semi-final next week against the Stormers.

The Reds had won 21 of their previous 23 games at Lang Park but a stunning display of running rugby and ferocious breakdown work laid the groundwork for the Sharks.

"It was an epic game of rugby and the tempo was right there from the off," Sharks captain Keegan Daniel told Fox Sports.

The Sharks worked the ball out wide at every opportunity and Pietersen scored following a turnover, cutting inside his opposite number to cross for his fifth try of the season.

Frederic Michalak had already put the Sharks ahead with a penalty and the France international converted for 10-0 after just 12 minutes.

Ben Lucas, replacing the suspended Quade Cooper, had to be helped from the field after rolling his ankle in a tackle and things got even worse for the Reds when Jordaan went over from another move down the Sharks' right wing.

Michalak made it 17-0 and, although Mike Harris trimmed the deficit with a penalty, the Frenchman dropped a goal to keep the home side under the cosh.

Genia filled in for Lucas as playmaker and gave the defending champions some hope, exchanging passes with Scott Higginbotham on the left and diving over for a try that Harris converted for 20-10 at halftime.

But Genia's inexperience at 10 showed after the restart when he telegraphed a long pass that McLeod plucked from the air to sprint in unchallenged and touch down under the posts, leaving Michalak a simple conversion.

The Reds showed their mettle by dominating second-half possession and camping on the Sharks' line for periods but were unable to force the crucial breakthrough.

Liam Gill thought he had grounded under a heap of bodies but the video referee ruled that TV footage was inconclusive, while Digby Ioane almost made it over from a quick tap penalty but lost the ball forward at the foot of the post.

Michalak struck another penalty for the Sharks before Samo's consolation score, which Genia converted.

 

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